Consumer Law

Dealer or Repair Shop: Which to Choose When Fixing Your Car?

Buying a new or used car can be a major purchase. Once you buy a car, the last thing you expect is to have to pay for expensive parts and repairs. Depending on the circumstances, certain laws may shift the financial burden of car parts and repairs to the dealership from which you bought the car. Even if you're responsible for the expense, other consumer laws may protect you from getting ripped off.

Used Car Dealerships Can Be Responsible

Although laws vary among states, certain laws protect consumers from breaking the bank to repair a recently purchased used car. Under Massachusetts law, for example, a dealership that sells a car with less than 125,000 miles on it for at least $700 must provide the buyer with a written warranty.This warranty is in effect for between 30 and 90 days, depending on the car's mileage at the time of sale. It covers the cost of parts and repairs necessary to correct a defect or malfunction.

Repair Shops and State Laws

Once a warranty expires, you'll be paying out-of-pocket for car parts and repairs. Since the majority of consumers aren't car mechanics, many states arm you with a number of legal rights when dealing with auto repair shops. In Illinois, for example, repair shops must provide you with a written estimate of the work needed and must indicate which charges relate to essential repairs and which relate to suggested repairs.

Warranties Valid Even If You Don't Use a Dealership

When you purchase a new car, it's likely that your warranty covers the cost of parts and repairs for a number of years. Under federal law, car companies and dealerships cannot make the warranty contingent on your use of certain mechanics or parts manufacturers or prevent you from using aftermarket car parts to maintain the warranty's coverage.

Car Part Purchases Made at Retail Outlets

If you purchase car parts at a retail outlet, consumer warranty laws protect you if the part doesn't work properly or is damaged. As is the case with most consumer purchases, retailers who sell car parts make an implied warranty of merchantability, which means they are responsible for refunding your money or exchanging the part if you're unable to use it for its intended purpose, or if it's below average in quality.

A Consumer Law Attorney Can Help

The law surrounding car parts and repairs is complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact a consumer law attorney.

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